Not FairThey were Everything’s and Nothing’s eldest offspring, Deathandlife, a two-headed entity, equal in strength and function. For eons they performed their task in harmony, until slowly they became not Deathandlife, but Death and Life. Their body split as their minds had, two instead of one, opposing forces instead of a seamless whole.
Death then looked upon the works of Life, and found himself longing for what he had lost.
The waking world was warm as the fire of a hearth, joyful and ever-changing. The other world was frosted slumber. Eternal summer for Life, Death thought, while he and his own ever froze in the dark of winter. The living became his but few at a time, and never for long before they returned again to that summer-world.
Not fair, not fair. Why should Life be favored so?
Death rode free through the waking world in gleeful abandon, shrieking winds and biting snow and the rampant fires of wild July. He bit and tore, ferociously devouring all he once had.
MagimechanistHirune knew something was wrong the moment she stepped into the Admissions office and the secretarial acolyte’s expression changed into something forced and artificial. She was admitted into a private interview cell. Instead of asking questions, however, the acolyte sighed, shuffled some papers, and looked her in the eye.
“I fear there may have been a misunderstanding. Not about your aptitude for magical studies – your theoretical work is impressive – but it says here that you wish to enter our mechanical school...?”
“Yes, I do.”
“I’m afraid that will be impossible. Might I suggest—”
The acolyte paused. Hirune forced her voice back under control.
“Why is it impossible?”
Phantom fingers clenched. The sole remaining digit curled in tandem with them.
“I can work around it.”
“Not in mechanical enchantments. Many of the upper-level spells requi
Destiny's MessengersGhosts of the past whispered cryptic visions of the future as she slept. Fire, blood, and ash. A dark throne. A dulled, diminished sword.
She understood none of it until it was too late.
Fire consumed the palace. Blood ran down the walls. Ash choked the air. Only a scant handful of their once illustrious Order escaped with their lives, and with two things far more precious: the sacred blade of the gods and the infant son of the queen.
When they slipped through the veil into the other world, they found things far different from the land they had left. They struggled to survive, and the infant grew pale, weak, and sickly. They could not care for him, and so they surrendered him to others, loving residents of this world who treated them as their own son.
Cats, birds, and dogs carried their sight as they made sure the young prince remained safe and secure, hidden from the gaze of the usurper king.
Years passed. The Order watched, and their Ghosts whispered to them still.
A scant few young
DreamlandOld Velda lived out of sight of the village, her ramshackle hut tucked away behind a tall hill crowned by a forbidding grove. Sometimes the boys played at creeping close, daring one another to touch the rough wood siding without being caught. Sometimes one was brave enough to reach out and rap quickly at the door before pelting back to safety.
Connor lifted a shaking hand, knocked twice, and did not run.
“What?” Velda snapped, the door jerking open with a suddenness that sent a jolt up Connor’s spine so that his shoulders jumped.
His mind stuttered for a response, groping through his carefully rehearsed speeches as a beleaguered man gropes for a shield.
“Timmy says you’re a witch,” said his mouth. His mind heard this, and its groping grew more frantic. “I mean, I need help. I mean, my sister—”
“Ah. The wee fool in dreamland, aye?”
Velda stood aside, gesturing impatiently with her cane. Connor would have much rathe
UnwantedThe Æsir attack, and before she can blink the sleep from her eyes one has seized her, thrown her over an armored shoulder, and is carrying her away. She writhes and calls out for her mother, all in vain.
They move quickly, even burdened by three struggling children, and before the sun has climbed to its peak she is dropped to her knees before a high throne. Her brothers thrash beside her, hissing and growling, trying to be strong. She shows her strength in a different way, and allows no fear to pass over her expression, though her heart shudders like a bird.
Odin is immense, as tall as Yggdrasil to her young eyes. He stands from his throne and approaches them, calling them the spawn of Loki and Angrboda, his single eye cold as steel. In a flash he seizes Jormungandr and casts him down into the depths of Midgard’s seas. She forces herself not to call after him, and not to shudder when the All-Father casts his terrible gaze upon her next.
Something wars briefly within his feat
Lullaby BoxAuburn dust hazed the air, diluting the already weak light of the setting sun and hiding uneven lumps of stone and shattered beams from sight. Hilde tugged her scarf over her nose and mouth and slid carefully down the slope of what might once have been a carved column, using the tip of her sword as both a crutch and a blind man’s staff. The terrain was treacherous; twice she had nearly been buried by a shifting piece of stone.
Still she persisted. The Red Queen had returned from the grave once before; this time, they must be certain and see her body destroyed.
When Hilde finally came upon the Queen’s fallen form, she almost didn’t recognize her. The cold beauty of her expression had melted away in death, and her crumpled body showed none of her usual regal bearing. If not for the unmistakable fire-hued robes and the enchanted rings visible on her fingers, Hilde might almost have thought that an innocent was somehow caught in the final blast.
It seemed almost wrong tha
StorytimeThe party showed no signs of slowing down, for all it had been going on for hours. Drinks were raised and songs were sung – already the castle minstrel had begun composing a song about the heroes’ victory. Just about everybody was rip-roaring drunk. More than one had already passed out under the tables.
Only one person slipped away from the warm, bright chaos of unfettered celebration to stand alone under the night sky. He leaned against a rampart and gulped from the mug he had taken along, the narrow windows of the hall casting a slit of golden light against his back. Another rousing chorus sounded from within. The man raised his face to the sky, his eyes seeking something he couldn’t see – a glass wall of magic, somewhere beyond the stars.
“Bet you think we’re a right funny lot,” he said, scowling. “You liked watching us, huh? All that pain. Enjoyed it, did you, when Myrne almost died, and Berand forced himself to learn magic he hated,
Oracle 5.3It was supposed to be the latest and greatest in temporal-relative software. Sleek, powerful, and capable of achieving feats that had once been regarded as magic at best, a farce at worst, Oracle v. 5.3 would be the future of major decision making. Its databanks were packed to the brim with human psychology and physiology, chance and statistics, social structures and laws and morality in all its varying degrees and codes. It understood humans better than they understood themselves.
“I can haz cheezburger. Chuck Norris stared at the sun: solar eclipse. Such wow.”
Yes, Oracle was truly the pinnacle of Dr. Harding’s career, but he didn’t need it to know that if he ever got his hands on those interns, there would be hell to pay.
KrakenOnce upon a time, the prince of the winds and the princess of the currents fell in love and were wed. Their union was a joyous occasion, filled with song and dance and gestures of goodwill between the denizens of the sky and the sea. Their respective fathers even worked together to build them a new home, a graceful tower rooted in the depths of the ocean and crowned at the cap of the heavens.
All was well until the prince’s sisters celebrated his marriage with the release of a hundred white-winged birds. Though the display was beautiful, the princess’ grandmother, the lady of the deep, only scoffed and rose creakily to her feet.
“You call that a show?” she asked. Her relatives tried in vain to quiet her so that they could assure the wind princesses that no disrespect was meant. The old lady only shrugged off their tugging whispers and fervent hands, and she laughed.
“I’ll give you something to watch,” she cried, raising her arms and calling out